Molière wrote Tartuffe in 1664. Almost immediately following its first performance that same year at the Versailles fêtes, it was censored by King Louis XIV, probably due to the influence of the archbishop of Paris, Paul Philippe Hardouin de Beaumont de Péréfixe, who was the King's confessor and had been his tutor.[2] While the king had little personal interest in suppressing the play, he did so because, as stated in the official account of the fête:

"...although it was found to be extremely diverting, the king recognized so much conformity between those that a true devotion leads on the path to heaven and those that a vain ostentation of some good works does not prevent from committing some bad ones, that his extreme delicacy to religious matters can not suffer this resemblance of vice to virtue, which could be mistaken for each other; although one does not doubt the good intentions of the author, even so he forbids it in public, and deprived himself of this pleasure, in order not to allow it to be abused by others, less capable of making a just discernment of it."[3]

As a result of Molière's play, contemporary French and English both use the word "tartuffe" to designate a hypocrite who ostensibly and exaggeratedly feigns virtue, especially religious virtue. The play is written entirely in 1,962 twelve-syllable lines (alexandrines) of rhyming couplets.[4]

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